We frequently change our minds throughout the day. Whether it’s deciding what clothes to wear, what to have for breakfast, what route to take to work, what to work on first, what to have for dinner, or what to do during the evening, we are constantly switching among alternatives and options.
But what about our deep beliefs? How frequently do you pause to reflect on the beliefs and assumptions you hold as true? The reality is we rarely take a break from the busy and hectic world we live in to pause and think about the beliefs we hold and to assess whether these beliefs actually correspond to reality.
We all hold deep rooted beliefs about who we are and what we are “made of”. These beliefs translate into expectations about ourselves and make their way, sometimes through convoluted paths, into our behaviors. We tend not to set goals, for example, in those areas we do not see ourselves capable of performing. So our sense of self-efficacy, whether correct or not, influences our behavior. And behavior determines results.
Our most ingrained beliefs are built through time. They start as light assumptions that seem to work – we use them to decide and act. As we live, we learn that many of our assumptions are wrong; we end up realizing they are premature generalizations that do not correspond to reality. There are, however, some assumptions that hold. Every experience supports the assumption. As evidence builds up, these assumptions turn into firmly held beliefs; truths that become part of our core psychology; bastions of our character.
The road from light assumption to firm belief, however, is beset with traps. To start with, attention is a scarce resource. We’ve learned to shut-off the ton of stimuli our overcrowded world delivers. In the process, we focus on what we understand to be the critical and inadvertently shut-off potentially important data. Additionally, our view of the world is tinted by previously held beliefs. Our “radar screen”, so to speak, is biased. Once we adopt an inclination, evidence that supports the inclination is easily seen while evidence against it is easily overlooked. We see what we expect to see.
How do we, then, make sure we are operating upon a solid belief foundation? The short answer is that we have to think. Or to be more precise, we have to think about how we think.
Socrates’ famous quote is apropos: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Without reflection, we continue to operate in “autopilot” mode and set ourselves up to wrong conclusions and unproductive courses of action. Hence, reflecting on our belief system, and assessing which beliefs are solid and which are unfounded is an important step in improving our capacity and ability to achieve.
Taking responsibility for the level of consciousness and awareness we bring to each activityis another important step towards living responsibly. When we commit to awareness, we empower ourselves with clarity and take responsibility for the ideas we entertain and the values we adopt.
Finally, the practice of integrating what we discover and learn as we go through life with our current context of knowledge and belief structure is fundamental in assuring we are operating within the realm of reality. When faced with contradictions, we need to reassess our assumptions.
These measures and practices are meant to invite you to embark in a journey of self-discovery and self-realization. We are frequently held back by false beliefs. Fortunately, we are not condemned to error. We are equipped with the capacity to discover the truth. We’ve been endowed with the power to live consciously. Living consciously is not a burden; it’s an engine capable of lifting us to our true potential; an instrument to enable and trigger productive behaviors and high performance.
By understanding how our beliefs got initially erected, and by increasing our awareness and consciousness, we can take responsibility for them and erect an objective and empowering belief structure capable of catapulting us towards the future.
Copyright 2012 QBS, Inc.